Gu Hongming, in his time known as Ku Hung-ming (18 July 1857 – 30 April 1928) was a Chinese thinker and man of letters. Famous for his knowledge of the English language and Western civilization, he however voiced an opposition to reforms of the Chinese society.
The Spirit of the Chinese People (1915)
- The serene and blessed mood which enables us to see into the life of things: that is imaginative reason, that is the Spirit of the Chinese People.
- In fact, the chief end of a woman in China is not to live for herself, or for society; not to be a reformer or to be president of the woman's natural feet Society; not to live even as a saint or to do good to the world; the chief end of a woman in China is to live as a good daughter a good wife and a good mother.
- A foreign lady friend of mine once wrote and asked me whether it is true that we Chinese believe, like the Mohamedans, that a woman has no soul. I wrote back and told her that we Chinese do not hold that a woman has no soul, but that we hold that a woman,—a true Chinese woman has no self.
- But people will say to me, "why ask selflessness and sacrifice only from the woman? What about the man?" To this, I answer, does not the man, the husband, who toils and moils to support his family, and especially if he is a gentleman, who has to do his duty not only to his family, but to his King and country, and, in doing that has, some time even to give his life: does he not also make sacrifice?
- [T]he honour of a woman,— a true woman in China, is not only to love and be true to her husband, but to live absolutely, selflessly for him, In fact, this Religion of Selflessness is the religion of the woman, especially, the gentlewoman or lady in China, as the Religion of Loyalty which I have tried elsewhere to explain, is the religion of the man, — the gentleman in China.
- [S]poken or colloquial Chinese is [...] in fact the language of a child. Now as a proof of this, we all know how easily European children learn colloquial or spoken Chinese, while learned philogues and sinologues insist in saying that Chinese is so difficult. Chinese, colloquial Chinese, I say again is the language of a child. My first advice therefore to my foreign friends who want to learn Chinese is "Be ye like little children, you will then not only enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but you will also be able to learn Chinese."
Quotes about Gu
- He was a crank but not a bore, for his was a first-class mind and he had, above all, insight and depth, as no man in my generation had. No man in China wrote English the way he did, because of his challenging ideas and because of his masterly style, a style reminiscent of Matthew Arnold's poised and orderly evolution of ideas and repetition of certain phrases, plus the dramatic bombast of Thomas Carlyle and the witticisms of Heine.
- Lin Yutang, From Pagan to Christian (1959), page 46